From kitchen prep to transitioning holiday décor, consider this your guide to anticipating Hanukkah 2021's early arrival.

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This year, the first evening of Hanukkah falls on November 28—that's just three days after Thanksgiving. While you may still have room for the Festival of Lights' delicious sufganiyot (jelly donuts) amongst your leftover homemade pumpkin pie, there is still so much work (and prep) to do for the eight-night celebration. For those hosting Hanukkah festivities at their homes, everything from the menu to seasonal décor needs to be taken into consideration. To help, we tapped three party and lifestyle experts and asked them to explain how to smoothly transition from Thanksgiving to Hanukkah.

Stick to autumnal décor.

Whenever a new season or holiday arrives, one of the first ways to welcome it is to switch up your home décor. But with Hanukkah just three days after Thanksgiving, there's a time crunch element at play. Is it ultimately worth swapping out harvest gourds and grasses for Hanukkah's traditional blue, silver, and gold emblems? According to Rebekah Lowin, a lifestyle blogger who specializes in Jewish celebrations, notes that an autumnal Hanukkah celebration is perfectly acceptable this year. "Go all-in on fall! Lean into the seasonal elements, rather than pretending it is winter," shares Lowin.

She likes the idea of drawing on rich, autumnal hues as opposed to wintry silvers and blues. "On your tablescape, instead of blues and whites, stick with crimson, deep brown, and gold—the same color as the foil wrapping of gelt," she says. "No matter your Hanukkah color palette, so long as you include lots of light, as well as your family's menorah, the meaning—as well as the rich tradition of Hanukkah—never flickers." As for other decorative elements to try? Menucha Citron Cede, a content creator at Moms and Crafters, suggests a simple DIY that can be done quickly, in the few days you have between the two holidays. Dress up simple white hand and dish towels with Hanukkah motifs or a simple border using a machine like a Cricut. "This is a classy way to make [towels] seasonal," she says.

hannukah dinner party celebration
Credit: Drazen Zigic / Getty Images

Employ a hybrid dinner menu.

If you find yourself hosting back-to-back holidays this year, give yourself the permission to not make brisket, latkes, and sides from scratch come Hanukkah. "There's no need to add the stress of homemade everything to your plate right after a huge holiday," she says, "especially when there are so many fabulous Jewish small businesses, bakeries, and catering services to choose from." While many of this holiday's traditions stem from homemade dishes and baked goods, Lowin notes that your holiday spread doesn't have to be entirely crafted by you to be special—which is why she suggests taking a hybrid approach. This Hanukkah, make one or two dishes yourself and then support a local Jewish business for your other dinner needs. It's a win-win.

Find your holiday spirit early by preparing for your celebrations now.

Since Hanukkah is supremely early this year, why not get into the holiday spirit and begin the prep work right now? Get the whole family involved, kids included, and begin by creating a few Hanukkah decorations; everything from glitzy dreidels to homemade cards can drum up the excitement. Another secret to finding this holiday joy early? Plan your family gatherings in advance. Sara Murray, the CEO and Creative Director at Confetti & Co, anticipates this year's festivities will mean so much more, as safe gatherings are possible again. "We recommend planning events ahead of time and delegating tasks so it's not all on one person's plate—or bring in help!" she notes. "This alleviates stress and keeps spirits high." No matter Hanukkah's early calendar date, allow the light of the eight-night celebration to guide you and inspire you from this season into the next—there is simply so much to be grateful for.

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